There are many reasons why a landowner might choose to sell timber. Your forestland is a valuable asset and may represent one of the largest financial transactions you’ll ever make. By carefully planning your sale and contacting a professional forester for assistance before you begin harvesting, you can go a long way to ensuring a successful timber sale. Of course, many landowners sell timber for the purpose of generating income, but sometimes timber is harvested to salvage the value of trees that have been damaged by ice, wind, snowstorms, wildfires, insects or disease. What the reason for harvesting, a professional forester can help you plan a harvest that will suit your objectives and maximize your income.
Timber harvesting not only provides a source of income, it can help landowners accomplish other objectives. Proper forest management is accomplished by identifying and selecting the best trees for removal. Foresters are able to look at the overall species composition and determine what type of harvest is needed and the forest’s potential for regeneration. Professional foresters can provide a wealth of information about timber sales contracts, the bidding process and current laws and statutes.
Forests can be harvested using a variety of methods. Clearcutting involves cutting all of the trees in a particular area, whereas, selective cutting involves cutting individual trees throughout the stand. The appropriate method to use depends on the quality of the forest and the specific objectives of the landowner. When selecting trees to be harvested, it is important to remember that there are many factors affecting the value of a timber stand including species, number, size, total volume, quality, distance from market, accessibility of site, difficulty of logging, market condition and buyer’s finances. Therefore, the value of a stand of trees becomes whatever is agreeable between the buyer and seller. Sellers should beware of timber buyers who offer to “selectively cut” their woods. Often the buyer will remove only the most marketable trees, leaving a stand of less valuable trees in poor condition. This type of cutting, known as “high-grading” removes not only the current value of the stand, but much of its future value. Sellers should also beware of timber buyers how offer to buy all of the trees above a certain diameter. In most cases, diameter cutting is just another way of “highgrading” timber.
Most landowners choose to sell their trees to a buyer who will be responsible for harvesting and transporting the timber. This type of timber sale is referred to as selling stumpage. Landowners should always have a written timber sales contract with the buyer that outlines the species of the agreement including how the trees are marked and priced, how the payment is to be made (lump sum or pay as you cut) and where the property boundaries are located. While loggers in Kentucky are regulated under the Kentucky Forest Conservation Act which requires a Master Logger to be on site and in charge on all commercial timber harvesting operations, landowners should be aware that they are ultimately responsible for water quality protection on their land.
A professional forester can and will help you make more money from your timber sale, leave more trees for future harvests, protect soil and water resources, and improve visual impact during harvest.
Contact the Kentucky Division of Forestry for more information concerning this free service at 154 GrandVue Plaza, Hazard, Ky., (606) 435-6073 or (800) 866-0503.